Make Room for Maremma: Tuscany’s Most Exciting Wine District

Everyone is familiar with Tuscany, right? It’s the idyllic and delicious Italian region that is home to Florence, Siena, Montalcino and of course, the Chianti region. But have you heard of Maremma?

Maremma is in the Grosseto province about 100 miles north of Rome and 40 miles south of Bolgheri (where many famous Super Tuscans originated, including Sassicaia, Gaja’s Ca’Marcanda, Ornellaia and others).

The Maremma DOC was founded in 2014, so pretty new for Italy (The country’s first DOC wine was Vernaccia di San Gimignano in 1966).

The entire Maremma area is 8000 hectares (or almost 20,000 acres). This is a sizable chunk of Tuscany (which is about 149,000 acres in all).

The DOC actually hosted a real, live in-person wine tasting in March, and that is how I got to know this amazing area in more depth. (I mean, yes, I studied it a little for my Certified Specialist of Wine exam, but it was kind of a “blip” in the overall Italian curriculum.)

With a classic Mediterranean climate, featuring fresh sea breezes, big sun, little rain and low humidity, Maremma grows magnificent Sangiovese – Italy’s most-grown red grape – and very delicious Vermentino. More than half of all vineyards are farmed organically in Maremma, which doesn’t really impact the quality or taste profile of a wine, but it does help the planet by keeping vineyards healthy. The cool thing about Maremma is the diversity of the wines. You’ll rarely find a 100% Sangiovese wine, but you will find Sangiovese living together in the same bottle with Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauv and Merlot – which is fun, fun, fun!

But What About Those Wines?

As I walked into Gibson’s Italia on a sunny spring day, I thought I’d forgotten how these things work – it had been over a year since I’d last attended a wine tasting event! Everyone had their own table, set with a tasting mat and 10 red wines (the whites came later, with lunch). After everyone placed their lunch order with a server, the 90-minute class led by the remarkable Regine Rousseau began. We had a live Zoom with Franscesco Mazzei from Florence and Luca Pollini, director of the Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana (the consortium for the protection of the Maremma Toscana wines).

I’m going to share my notes from all 10 reds and a couple of wonderful whites from the tasting – which was done so well: great content and it was so cool to have Francesco and Luca from Italy “with us” (on Zoom) in the room!

La Biagiola Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2018 “Tesan” – 60% Sangiovese, 40% Alicante – a huge wine, showing anise, cherry Twizzlers, nice tannins – a steak wine for sure.

Argentina Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2018 “Col di Lupo” – 60% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot – the Merlot tames the Sangiovese, so this is just a little lighter-bodied and has those floral notes – like dried violets – that you find in Merlot. LOVE this wine!

Querciabella Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2018 “Morgana”– 50% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon — Holy what the Maremma, I wrote down “yuh-mee!” after my first sip of this one. It’s a near-perfect balance of fruit, spice and coffee / mocha. Definitely has an Old World texture (there’s no oak used on this wine) and I loved it! ($20 at wine.com)

Casteani Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2014 “Terra di Casteani” – 70% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot – Okay, we went from zero oak to lots and lots of oak – it’s the first thing I smelled. But it is deliciously chewy in texture, showing dark fruit, herbs, cedar and spices.

Villa Pinciana Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2013 “Terraria” — 45% Sangiovese, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot – Not my personal fave – very Old World with a more rustic profile (a lot of earth and green herbs over fruit) but plenty of peeps love this rather Bordeaux-style red.

Poggio Cagnano Maremma Toscana Rosso 2018 “Selvoso” – 60% Ciliegiolo, 40% Merlot – The first wine without any Sangiovese! FYI – that big “C” word is pronounced like this: chee-a-jolo. Definitelymore cranberry and mocha, with a nice round mouthfeel – without the use of oak, which is unusual. It’s lighter but would definitely work with a nice steak! ($30 from a wine shop in San Francisco that might ship!)

SanFelo Maremma Toscana Rosso 2019 “Balla la Vecchia” – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot – Super juicy and lush, with plum and red cherry juice running rampant, and definitely some oak here. This wine – everyone agreed – would be delicious chilled a bit and sipped on a hot summer day! ($20 from a Ft. Lauderdale wine shop who might ship)

Pepi Lignana Maremma Toscana Cabernet 2018 “Poggio Colombi” – 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – A huge wine, busting loose with bold tannins, dark fruits, heavy body – if you like a big Cab with a lot of spice – this wine is for you! ($20 from some New York shops that might ship.)

Prelius Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2015 “Prelius Prile” – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot – Mamma Mia Maremma! Big, chewy tannins give way to roasted strawberries and blackberry jam – a tiny hint of juniper sneaks in at the end.

Fattoria di Magliano Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2015 “Poggio Bestiale” – 35% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot – Whoa, mama – if I tasted this blind, I think I would’ve called Right Bank Bordeaux. It is super Old World in style – almost savory, with big tannins. This is a wine that wants to lay down for maybe five more years – when it will sing with bold elegance.

Many of the wines we tasted are seeking U.S. representation, so I can’t always cite prices and where-to-buy info – but I would encourage you to ask your favorite wine shop if they have any Maremma Toscana wines because they over-deliver for the price point (unless you are splurging on a Super Tuscan – then, you’re on your own! But call me – I’ll come share it with you!)

After the 90 minute class, they served lunch and you could taste white wines on your own and I found a beauty: a rosé of Sangiovese that was unfiltered and funky and YUMMY! With a salty, crunchy Ceasar salad, it was perfecto! I need someone in Chicago to start importing this beauty: Argentaia’s Le Papesse 2019.

For more scoop on Maremma, visit the Consorzio’s website here. Cin cin, amici!

4 comments

  1. i became very acquainted with Maremma while I was collaborating with an artisan producer right outside Grosseto, Muschi Alti. They bought the land as a family (Alberto Ottonelli Silvestro, and their father) back in 1997 and replanted all the vines. They produce 7 wines (5 are reds) and only produce 20K bottles per year. They did have a U.S. importer for a year back in 2016 in NYC, Sol Stars, but became offended by the deep discounting of their wines and the relationship ended. Liz, I seel you worked at Terlato at one time and wondered if you know my friend, Don Clemens. I had him sample their wines last year and he published an article in The Chicago Wine Press back in Sept. 2020, but it did not generate any importer interest, unfortunately. I attempted for a year to find them a new importer, with no success, unfortunately. I was not following the Maremma Consortium and never knew about the March Master Class at Italia. http://www.muschialti.it

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